Eskom in South Africa has been increasingly using its open cycle gas turbine power stations to create space for maintenance of its facilities, an issue that is a problem for the utility.

The company’s increased use of the open cycle gas turbines, which are expensive to run, indicates the seriousness of the power constraints. Due to the high fuel costs involved, the use of the gas turbines was likely to push up the utility’s primary energy costs and so affect its financial performance.

Speaking at the quarterly Eskom updates on the state of the electricity system, CEO Brian Dames said SA needed 3000 MW of capacity from current demand and supply initiatives to keep the lights on and enable maintenance to continue. “Reducing this target will require an adjustment to the maintenance programme,” Mr Dames said. He also said Eskom could no longer defer maintenance as this was unsustainable.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said deferring maintenance could lead to outages and that would go against Eskom’s commitment to keep the lights on.

Mr Dames said: “We have said that we are resolved not to go back to the national power outages of 2008, but we cannot do it alone, nor can we guarantee it. Therefore we urge South Africans to partner with us and save 10% of their energy use.”

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